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Banks girls eager to show what they can do in league play when their starting lineup finally gets healthy

Banks High girls basketball coach Nick Rizzo says the Braves had just about everything going against them in their lone game against Gladstone High last week.

“We were coming off a big win against La Salle, one of the top teams in the state,” he said. “We once again were without our starting point guard. We had a couple of kids sick. And we beat them by 21 last time, so they were pretty motivated to play us this time around.”

All that proved too much for Banks to overcome, and the Braves fell 34-29.

“It was the perfect storm for us having a tough game,” Rizzo says. “I’m not trying to make excuses, but we had a tough uphill climb that game, for sure, and we still only lost by five, with basically half the roster healthy.”

Indeed, over the past week, the Braves have been snakebit by injuries and illness.

Starting point guard Lexi Chung missed the Gladstone game with a separated shoulder that she has been battling for the last three weeks.

“When she’s been available, she’s played really, really well for us,” Rizzo says. “I don’t know when she’s going to be back. Hopefully this week. But we’ll see.”

Starting center Sam Duyck had to play through back issues. And both starting wings, Kaylin VanDomelen and Kayla Hardie, had to battle through bad colds.

Needless to say, Rizzo is eager to get his team back to full strength as quickly as possible.

“Hopefully, we’ll get people healthy right now,” he says.

Despite an odd game against Gladstone, Banks finished the preseason with an impressive 10-3 record. Rizzo says the reason for the Braves’ success is depth.

“Normally, we’re 10 deep, and our 10 are solid,” he says. “We can go all out for all 32 minutes, and we can come at you in waves. When we’re healthy, we are by far one of the deepest teams in the state. We have a bunch of athletic kids who can go out and get it done.”

Rizzo is confident that the preseason schedule has put the Braves in a position to be successful once Cowapa League play opens next week.

“We’re ready,” Rizzo says. “Absolutely we’re ready. When it’s all said and done, we’ve had a really nice preseason.”

The Braves also remember the sting of watching Tillamook win the league championship last year. With that memory still fresh in his players’ minds, motivation in league play will not be hard to come by, Rizzo says.

“Winding up second in league last year, when we thought we had a shot at winning the league title, I’ll just say that we’re very motivated coming into this season,” Rizzo says. “We felt like we had a good chance last year, and we just missed it. So we’re ready this year.”

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